Spring tips for your veggie garden

    When creating a veggie / herb patch, start on a small scale and if you find you need more space extend the area later. Make small, successive sowings using seeds or advanced seedlings rather than buy entire punnets that may have more plants than you need.

Choose disease-resistant varieties that will grow well in your climate or situation and avoid growing members of the same vegetable family in the same part of your garden in successive seasons.

Mulch between the rows and between individual plants to suppress weed growth and if any weeds do appear, pull them up straight away. Give the growing crops a quick check every day with 5 minutes for watering in mornings and/or evenings, harvest any crops and keep an eye out for pests and diseases. Some damage might occur to leaves and other parts of the plant and instead of using chemicals, try companion planting as your first line of defense.

Provide shade for plantings made in summer with a temporary shadecloth screen, which you can then remove as the plants become established. Plant flowering ornamentals such as lavender among vegetables to attract pollinating insects. Planting sweet peas next to runner beans will encourage early pollination of beans.

Veggie Gardening Tips

Telephones in sheeps' clothing

The Museum for Communication focuses on the growth and change of the communications world and exhibits various modes of communication that have existed over the years. Ranging from antique mailboxes, an original Bell telephone, a piece of undersea communications cable, postal stamps and postcards and more curiosities of this kind.

Featured in the Museum for Communication in Frankfurt Jean Luc Cornec's Telephone Sheep are postured in all the ways you would see sheep on a typical farm. Jean Luc has evoked a surreal representation of life using otherwise lifeless forms of older model rotary telephones and their accompanying cords wrapped around sheep formed under structures. The phone on the cradle strikingly resembles a head in this context with the melted and bent hand piece creating great hooves.

In this new environment our shifted perspective gives the out of date phones an entirely new life. The ability to see materials outside of their traditional roles is key to reducing the mass of products our society currently consumes and reusing that which surrounds us everyday to its maximum potential.

While on the one hand art can be seen as a form of entertainment and pleasure, which may seem trivial to some, there can be a much more functional element to it as well. Art and design occur from the need to express, communicate, and question the human experience. An exhibit may probe into society's values and practices. Quality art should in the very least make us think.

Cornec's piece is a perfect gateway into thought provoking art that makes us shift our view on the function of material. The prevalence of upcycling, repurposing, green design, engineering and architecture addressing global climate change is the fruit of creative thinking. Art works like the Telephone Sheep force us to see new uses and value to otherwise expired products. The importance of art can stretch far beyond entertaining some web surfers or museum patrons. It can spawn in any of us the ability to think with a more malleable mind. Perhaps in even a simple way on a daily basis we can look at common refuse and see further life, another form, continuing function and less waste.

Artists and designers will play an immensely important role in our world as we move forward towards more sustainable ideology. Creativity, along with technology and ethical growth, can produce astounding results towards a more eco-friendly means of existence.

Source: Article by Doug Gunzelmann on Green Upgrader

Sheep Telephone

Hotel Room in a Capsule

Inspired by a Dasparkhotel (the work of the architect Andreas Strauss in 2006 in Austria), Mexico City's new green TuboHotel found on the outskirts of Tepoztlan, has excellent panoramic views of the Sierra del Tepozteco.

Located in a wooded setting of unusual features, the surrounding environment provides an unique natural environment for the unusual hotel that is built entirely from recycled concrete storm-sewer sections.

With construction time taking only three months from beginning to occupancy, the narrow tubes can house a queen bed, desk, fan, desk lamp and under-bed storage and there is easy access to two bath houses with private showers and bathrooms. Nightly rates ($500 pesos) are quite inexpensive since virtually no new construction materials were used in making the capsule-like hotel.

The goal for the architect (T3arc) was to have the ability to build a fast and affordable hotel that offered lodging for Tepoztlan tourist, and when they did the design work and built the early units, they effectively grouped some of the modules in threes for a cozy kind of capsule hotel-style experience and for minimal use of ground space.

Source: Arch Daily

Tube Hotel

Becoming more popular for decking - Macaranduba

A new wood is rapidly replacing the traditional Balau used for decking outdoor areas. This wood is sourced from the Manilkara bidentata tree, a species of Manilkara native to a large area of northern South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Common names include balata, ausubo and this wood is known in South Africa by one of its other common names: Macaranduba / Massaranduba.

The Balata is a large tree growing to 30-45m tall with alternate, elliptical leaves about 10-20cm long. The flowers are white and are produced at the beginning of the rainy season. The fruit is an edible yellow berry, 3-5cm in diameter containing one or two seeds. Natural latex is made from its sap.

Balata trees are farmed along the banks of the Amazon River and its tributaries and is the most important timber tree in the area as it is used by the locals for furniture and as a construction material.

The wood itself is hardwood with a red heart, and is so dense that it does not float in water. The locals often refer to it as bulletwood for its hardness and drilling is necessary to drive nailed connections.

The wood has more of a redish-brown colouring to it, and when sealed effectively with wood preserve the wood has a rich brown dark colour to it. If left to natural elements, the wood dries to a light grey colour over a period of a few years. Macaranduba is dense and hard and therefore as it dries differently, it warps and splinters less than its popular counterpart Balau.

Characteristics Macaranduba Balau
Density at 12% moisture content (kg/m3) 900 700
Density (kg/m3) AD 1360 1150
Radial shrinkage (R%) 6.3 4.6
Tangential shrinkage (T%) 9.4 10.4
Modulus of elasticity at 12% (N/mm2) 24700 15900
Janka hardness at 12% (kgf) 14200 7300
Durability class II I-II

Interestingly, Balata was often used in the production of high-quality golf balls - as the outer layer of the ball. Balata-covered balls have a high spin rate, but unfortunately do not travel as far as most surlyn-covered balls. While once favoured by professional and low-handicap players, the balata-covered balls are now obsolete, replaced by newer surlyn and urethane technology.

See further details in the technical specs of Balata or Balau.


Mountain biking amongst the mountains

The Cederberg Conservancy area within the dramatic sandstone reaches of the ranges will during September, be one of the prime wilderness areas to experience. The expansive displays of spring flowers can be enjoyed while doing your favourite leisure sport - mountain biking - on the Dwarsriver mountain bike trail.

The Dwarsriver mountain bike trail has recently been upgraded and the circular route now features a purpose-built single track. The ride starts along the gravel road to Wolfberg Cracks via the Valley of the Red Gods before joining onto the Rietgat jeep-track. The track is rocky for the next kilometre or two and then transforms into a single-track down to a technical river crossing.

From Rietgat, the main gravel road loops onto Lot's Wife trail, combining technical rock riding with single and dual track stretches through a wild and remote location with Cape mountain leopard tracks in the sand and klipspringers on the rocky ridges. From the rehabilitated pine plantation circle back onto Lot's wife track or continue onto the Maltese cross jeep track for about 6kms past the Cederberg Conservancy, finishing up about 3 kms from Sanddrif.

The circular track is of intermediate level, ranging from 7.5 to 32kms depending on which route is taken, and could take between 2 - 3 hours. The terrain is gravel road, jeeptrack and single track. A conservancy fee is payable at Sanddrif for access into the conservancy area.

Popular accommodation are the chalets or camp sites at Sanddrif camp site.

Read more about Sanddrif in our must-see locations article or contact Dwarsrivier Farm (027) 482 2825 for more information.

Dwarsriver Mountain bike trail

Hot News

Living Matter supports NSRI

Living Matter is officially a shore crew member of the NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) in Cape Town.

NSRi Shore crew member Do your bit by donating to their deserving cause.

Featured Plant

Bolusanthus Speciosus

Bolusanthus Speciosus
(Tree Wisteria)

Family :


Description :

Indigenous medium tree to 7m with drooping mauve flowers.

Flowering time :

Spring / Summer

Conditions :

  • Full Sun
  • Average water
  • Deciduous
  • Wind resistant
  • Some frost
  • Well drained soil

View more detailed information on this plant in our plant directory.

Wine of the month

Wine of the month

Lyngrove Reserve Chardonnay 2010

Winery : Lyngrove
Winemaker : Hannes Louw

Description :

Dry, Lightly oaked 100% Chardonnay from Helderberg region of Stellenbosch.

Aroma : Citrus and almonds on the nose.

Palate : Hints of nougat and biscuit on the palate. Creamy mouth feel from lees contact with clean, lingering finish.

Winemaking : Smaller yields in 2009 resulted in more concentrated fruit-intensity in the wines. Wine spends 9 months on lees. 50% in stainless steel tanks, 50% fermented in older French oak which adds some complexity to the wine.

Food Pairing : Seafood linguine or smoked salmon salad.

If you want to purchase or require more information on this wine, or if you are interested in a private or corporate tasting, please email Karen or visit her website.

Planting Guide

Herb or Veggie

Seeds can be sown or plants can be planted for the following herbs and veggies this month:


  • Beans
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Mielies
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkin
  • Radish
  • Squash
  • Sweetcorn
  • Swisschard
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Herbs

  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Chives
  • Chamomile
  • Dill
  • Mustard
  • Oreganum
  • Parsley
  • Rocket
  • Thyme
  • Watercress
  • View our full planting plan in our resources section of our website.

    Brain Teaser

    We all love a chance to test our own brain capacity with brain teasers. Try see if you can figure out this one...

    Brain Teaser

    August's Teaser Answer :
    "Mind over matter"


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    Contact Cheral:

    Cell: 082 82 509 82